Israel likes to pride itself by claiming it is the only democracy in the Middle East … Uri Avnery, a hero of the 1948 War, a former member of the Knesset, and a prominent peace activist, describes how that claim is becoming a hollow shell.
July 18, 2011
The Israeli Boycott Law
By URI AVNERY, Tel Aviv
Years ago I said that there are but two miracles in Israel: the Hebrew language and democracy.
Hebrew had been a dead language for many generations, more or less like Latin, when it was still used in the Catholic church. Then, suddenly, concurrent with the emergence of Zionism (but independently) it sprang back to life. This never happened to any other language.
Theodor Herzl laughed at the idea that Jews in Palestine would speak Hebrew. He wanted us to speak German. “Are they going to ask for a railway ticket in Hebrew?” he scoffed.
Well, we now buy airline tickets in Hebrew. We read the Bible in its Hebrew original and enjoy it tremendously. As Abba Eban once said, if King David were to come to life in Jerusalem today, he could understand the language spoken in the street. Though with some difficulty, because our language gets corrupted, like most other languages.
Anyhow, the position of Hebrew is secure. Babies and Nobel Prize laureates speak it.
The fate of the other miracle is far less assured.
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THE FUTURE – indeed, the present – of Israeli democracy is shrouded in doubt.